At Hatano Yoshishige's invitation, Dōgen left for Kyōto in search of a remedy for his illness. In 1253, soon after arriving in Kyōto, Dōgen died. Shortly before his death, he had written a death poem:

The statue memorializing Dōgen's vision of Avalokiteshvara at a pond in Eihei-ji, Japan.

Dōgen called this zazen practice "without thinking" (hi-shiryo) in which one is simply aware of things as they are, beyond thinking and not-thinking - the active effort not to think.

The correct mental attitude for zazen according to Dōgen is one of effortless non-striving, this is because for Dōgen, enlightenment is already always present.

Commitment to Zen is casting off body and mind. You have no need for incense offerings, homage praying, nembutsu, penance disciplines, or silent sutra readings; just sit single-mindedly.

For Dōgen, the practice of zazen and the experience of enlightenment were one and the same. This point was succinctly stressed by Dōgen in the Fukan Zazengi, the first text that he composed upon his return to Japan from China:

Earlier in the same text, the basis of this identity is explained in more detail: